Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

THE LADY IN THE VAN ; HHHHH STARRING: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam, Deborah Findlay, Frances De la Tour, Jim Broadbent, Gwen Taylor, Cecilia Noble, Dermot Crowley. DIRECTOR: Nicholas Hytner CERTIFICATE: 12A (104Mins)

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

THE LADY IN THE VAN ; HHHHH STARRING: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam, Deborah Findlay, Frances De la Tour, Jim Broadbent, Gwen Taylor, Cecilia Noble, Dermot Crowley. DIRECTOR: Nicholas Hytner CERTIFICATE: 12A (104Mins)

Article excerpt

TEASINGLY billed as "a mostly true story", The Lady In The Van is an entertaining screen adaptation of Alan Bennett's award-winning 1999 play, based on his experiences of a sharptongued vagrant called Miss Shepherd, who camped outside his driveway for more than 15 years.

The playwright has lovingly adapted his stage work, employing the same cute theatrical device of the real Alan and an internal self, who endlessly pontificate on the tramp's shady past as they mooch about a north London home.

Dame Maggie Smith reprises her eye-catching stage role as the eponymous and fragrant tramp, unleashing an array of withering putdowns that would surely have her imperious Dowager in Downton Abbey clucking with approval.

It's a tour-de-force performance from the national treasure, tinged with pathos and regret, which reminds us that Smith is a gifted physical comedian as well as a twinkly-eyed sniper with a sardonic one-liner.

Alan (Jennings) moves into a house in Camden and is befriended by well-to-do neighbours including opera fans Rufus (Roger Allam) and Pauline (Deborah Findlay), who live opposite, and statuesque Ursula Vaughan Williams (Frances de la Tour). …

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